Should I heat a mudroom/vestibule?

ErinApril 15, 2011

I am about to start renovating the mudroom/vestibule of my house and I'm not sure whether I should add electric radiant floor heat.

My house was built around 1930 but the vestibule on the front is only about 30 years old. The exterior is brick and stone. I was told the original entrance fell apart so the prior owners built this new one themselves. Aesthetically, the prior owners did a decent job but otherwise itâÂÂs junk. The whole thing leaks and isn't sealed or insulated well. The room is actually 2 stories because it is above what we believe was the coal bin in the basement. When they put in the floor joists for the upper room they ran the wood exposed to the outside which is the cause of most of the leaking when it rains.

Needless to say, we are going to totally have to gut it. I would like to make the room part of the inside of the house rather than the outside, which is currently is.

It's a very small room. Currently about 5 feet by 8 feet, but we plan on putting in a coat closet so the actual room will be smaller.

Is it small enough that it will be ok to just let it heat up by opening the inside door or will it just suck the heat out of the house?

Also, I plan on replacing the front door. So, after a new door and sealing and insulating it should be pretty tight.

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Depends on your climate, but in general, any room that is intended to be part of the house is going to require a heat source. Opening a door will keep it from actually freezing (if it is insulated) but it won't make it comfortable.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2011 at 2:31PM
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Sounds to me like this room will be more of a pass thru. You pass thru it after you are in the house to hang your coat in a closet and maybe remove your shoes and then into the main house closing the door behind you. It will act like a buffer between the outside and the inside. Basically an enclosed porch.
UNLESS there is plumbing in any of the walls that butt up to this room I wouldn't bother to heat it.
At most I might make sure there was an outlet so if I chose to I could put a small electric heater in there but given the amount of real time you might spend in that area it may not even be worth that.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2011 at 4:57PM
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We recently moved the entry of a powder room from the bathroom, to inside of a closet/butler's pantry which you enter from our dining area in our 1915 home. What we didn't take into consideration was a heat source since basically we're talking a large closet space.

We discovered how frigid it gets in there this winter and have resorted to using a space heater which is working well to keep the plumbing warm enough not to freeze since this isn't a main bathroom. It heats up the closet space too. On warmer days it isn't needed; we can keep the door which leads into the space open and the ambient temperature in the house seems to do the trick of keeping it comfortable.

In retrospect, we would have had a problem keeping this bathroom in the kitchen anyway. There's no heat source in there either; and just no place to install and additional unit (we have radiator heat). Old homes, you got to love them :D

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 12:13PM
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I have a similar room in my '38 A&C house that was added as a poorly constructed back porch/laundry room when they also added a bedroom -- both on a crawlspace. We gutted the porch and intended to run heat to it (steam radiator) but because it is lower than the main floor the piping wouldn't work properly. Rather than switch to a recommended electric heat source I decided to try it unheated, and I am very glad I did! Because it's cooler than the rest of the house it's not the ideal place for coats & shoes in winter, but it will work for that purpose. :) I'm in z5 and it generally stays in the 40F - 52F range during winter and will only drop around freezing if we have extended periods of very cold weather (like -20F for a week or more). It's turned out to be a TERRIFIC place for storing my gardening things like bulbs & tubers over winter.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 12:22PM
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Mear, it depends where you live. We are in Ohio and *any* space that is not heated in winter becomes an icebox. Our small powder room does not have a heating vent and gets cold even with the door open. For our enclosed porch, we can never even leave the door open due to the cold air coming in.

My Mom has a foyer on her 1930's tudor revival. She can't leave the door open in winter to it because cold air comes rushing in.

It should be heated.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 6:43PM
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Another consideration is whether you plan to keep coats and shoes in this space. We have an unheated enclosed porch, and I would NEVER keep coat or snow boots out there; if I put on a 20 degree coat and shoes, I'd never warm up. We keep our coats inside in a hallway, hung over a radiator, so they are toasty when we put them on and head out into the elements.

Egad I'm glad the winter is finally over.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2011 at 4:59PM
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Like others have said, it really depends on where you are...6B is colder than where we are (8B) but not by too much, I think. Our 235 sf kitchen is unheated; we're in a moderate climate where it's rarely below freezing and usually around 50-60. At those temperatures, the room heats up nicely between sun and heat from the rest of the house---we had an energy audit done before renovating our kitchen, and one of the recommendations was to leave the heating situation alone because the house had been built with a southern exposure that was heating the space naturally. So, we did, though we added insulation to the walls and windows, which helped to stabilize the temperature in the room. When temps dip down below freezing, though, it is cooler in there than in the rest of the house.

So, basically---if you only have a few weeks of wintry weather you'll probably be fine with spillover heat. If it's below freezing for big chunks of the year, I'd think about heating it. Depending on what kind of heat you have (is radiant floor heat the only option?) you might be able to try it first and add heat later, too.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2011 at 1:35AM
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